Pronto Cycle Share Just Over 2 Weeks Away: Updates

Here are a few quick updates on Pronto’s October 13th launch. The Seattle Bike Blog did an excellent job covering these, so I will just point you in the right direction.

  • Pronto is installing its first stations now, so keep an eye out for them. The first location to go in will be 9th Ave and Mercer street.
  • Pronto will not launch with helmet vending machines. Instead, it will use a temporary honor system for members to use and deposit helmets. Annual members will also receive a voucher for a free Pronto helmet from REI.
  • Pronto celebrated Park(ing) day alongside many other communities groups by partnering with Bike Works to spread the word and do some basic tune-up work. Great collaboration!
  • Returning to helmets, check out some data from SPD that shows they are targeting the wrong people when it comes to issuing infractions.
  • Mayor Ed Murray is working to get city funding for Pronto to expand into lower income neighborhoods in the Central District.

Bike Share is Coming to Seattle!

A Pronto Cycle Share prototype in front of a dodgeball court at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill.

A Pronto Cycle Share prototype in front of a dodgeball court at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill.

Pronto Cycle Share is less than two months away and I could not be more excited for its September launch! I’ve had the luxury of riding the bike on a few occasions and I must say cruising up to Capitol Hill from Downtown is not at all the difficult journey I expected. Whereas most bike share systems’ designs are heavier than average bikes and use only 3 gears, Pronto is lighter than other bike share bikes and has an internal 7-speed hub! Talk about prepared for Seattle! Rather than walk you through the whole bike again, check out this blog post from the Seattle Bike Blog about how Pronto rides. I couldn’t agree more!

Seattle Bike Share Unveiled: Pronto!

 

2014.05.06 Bikeshare bike

This afternoon Puget Sound Bike Share officially announced the new bike share program coming to the Seattle area this summer. Named Pronto!, this new service is set to hit the streets starting late summer and service Downtown Seattle, Belltown, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Eastlake, and the University District. Pronto! will be in large part funded by local aviation company Alaska Airlines, which has agree to a $2.5 million sponsorship to support the project in addition to $1 million from the federal government, $750,000 from WSDOT,

I am excited for the project and I sincerely hope the bike share helps spur the development of the “all ages and abilities” cycling that SDOT highlights in its new Bicycle Master Plan (passed in April). However, I have concerns:

  • How will safety and ridership be affected by the incomplete bicycle infrastructure?
  • Will the system and network help Seattleites with the common complaint: I am not comfortable riding in traffic?
  • Hills and rain. Either you deal with them or you don’t – will new cyclists be willing to brave the elements?
  • How will helmets be utilized by annual members? $2 is a lot for a member who also has her own bike and helmet. Will this lead to users neglecting to wear a helmet for these rides despite wearing helmets when riding their personal bike?
  • How deep does the funding go? Bikeshare systems are notorious for needing additional funding and the recent Metro transit funding failure may signal serious financial problems in Pronto!’s future if it should need continued public support.

I’ll be honest: as a cyclist with a passion for sustainable transportation I will be among the first subscribers to the annual membership – more out of support than necessity. I want to see this system succeed and I hope for positive effects to seep into the larger transportation systems and culture of the city. Plus, the added convenience of a bikeshare will be welcome for times I find myself without my bike or when I need a one-way trip. Still, I have my doubts. Is Seattle really ready for this?